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Young musicians searching for 'a sound'

Published:Friday | February 26, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer

Jamaican popular music has a proud record of producing great drum-and-bass teams - Lloyd Knibb and Lloyd Brevette of the Skatalites, Carlton and Aston 'Familyman' Barrett of The Wailers, and Sly and Robbie.

Bassist Andrew Ayre and drummer Patrick Anderson have some way to go before they reach that level, but are determined to maintain the history of great reggae rhythm sections. They currently play in the Idren Workshop, a band led by respected trombonist Ronald 'Nambo' Robinson.

The unit has been active recently, featuring in Robinson's Freedom Sounds shows which have taken place at Redbones Blues Café and Pulse. The series continues Sunday with a gig at St Andrew Park.

Started in church bands

Twenty-two-year-old Ayre is a Kingstonian and second-year student at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. Manchester-born, the dreadlocked Anderson is two years older and graduated from that school a year ago.

Both started in their church bands but learned their licks listening to secular musicians. Ayre says his biggest influences are 'Familyman' Barrett, Robbie Shakespeare and the jazz greats Jaco Pastorius (of the Weather Report band) and Marcus Miller (formerly of Miles Davis' band and Luther Vandross' musical director).

"I mostly listen to Familyman and Robbie 'cause reggae is my roots, but I listen to Jaco and Marcus Miller for the grooves," he said. Barrett, he added, is his favourite player.

"I listen to Bob (Marley) hard. Sometimes I wonder how dem come up with dem bass lines."

Anderson is also influenced by the masters: Sly Dunbar, Lincoln 'Style' Scott of Roots Radics and Leroy 'Horsemouth' Wallace, an exponent of the Rockers sound. Drummers went out of style as studio musicians in the 1980s when most Jamaican producers turned to computers, but Anderson says they are slowly making a comeback.

"The most important thing is to be creative and have a particular sound so you can draw the producers to you," he said.

To date, Anderson has recorded songs with rising singer Ras Penco and Nelly Stharre, a Dominican performer. Ayre has played on two songs with his other band, Pentateuch.